Monday, November 23, 2009

Do you force yourself to read books?

I'm not talking about forcing yourself to read, but to read certain books. It doesn't happen often, but sometimes I do have to force myself to finish a book.

Most of the time these books are supposed classics, or deemed important for one reason or another. I almost feel that if I don't read them, I am not as literate as I feel I need to be.

However the fact that I have forced myself to read them, rarely makes them worth it in the end. It's rare that the ending makes up for the work of reading the book, and most of the time I am just glad that it's finally over.

Usually the books I force myself to read are deemed literary classics.

There are a number of classics that I truly love, such as Tom Sawyer, White Fang, and Lord of the Rings. I don't feel I'm forcing myself to finish.

The books that I have a hard time reading seem to have one thing in common, they try to be different, just to be different. They have characters that I would never in a million years see walking down the street, but are there to be different.

I understand that characters have to be different, but in some ways they also have to be done in a way that I can relate to them. Coming up with a new character is like coming up with a new flavor of ice cream. You can combine different types of berries or fruit and chocolate to get new and exciting flavors, but if you suddenly add garlic and onions to the mix, sorry I'm not going to eat that. It's different, but it's too different. I really can't imagine myself eating strawberry-mango-chocolate-garlic and onion flavored ice cream, over a filet mignon. Sorry, it's not happening.

I think this is where most of these literary works lose me. I cannot relate in any way to the thinking or acting of the characters and I end up rolling my eyes at their behavior. These works are meant to expand my thinking, but usually I wonder, "what were they thinking?", when they wrote that.

I had a hard time reading Cat's Cradle, I didn't get the point. I forced myself to read Catch-22, but gave up after a third of the way in, because one of the characters ranted about things I didn't care about, and I got tired of it. I finished Atlas Shrugged, but felt it was waaaaaaay too long.

Are there any books that you have read that were forced because they were "important"?


  1. oh, yes. but, I usually don't force it. I just set it aside -- no guilt allowed. for me, it is often the classics (sorry Shakespeare, nothing personal) or fantasy. Fantasy has to be really well written to keep me turning the pages.

  2. FYI, I'm not saying that I didn't like the way that Atlas Shrugged turned out, it was just written way too long. Of course that was the style at the time. That's part of the problem with some of the books that I am talking about. You have to read them understanding the time period where they were created.

    Nobody else has books that you forced yourselves to finsh? I don't believe you... *grin*

  3. OMG!! You didn't like Cat's Cradle? That's one of my favorite books ever. Kurt Vonnegut explored so many themes in that book, and he did it with his typical cynicism and panache. But not everyone has to like it.

    As for me, the book that was most difficult for me to get though, just because I wanted to read it, was Crime and Punishment. It's not a boring book in my opinion, but rather very mind numbing. Some sentences in that book take up a third of a page. It is too drawn out to enjoy.

  4. Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness". Had it in 2 different courses in University; never got through it. I could write essays on it expounding this and that but all my information was from either the professor or Coles' Notes. I know it's a classic. Can't read it. I never saw "Apocalypse Now" for the same reason.


  5. For a long time The Great Gatsby was on my list of kind of "dud" books. It wasn't til I re-read in in my 30s that some of the things that had never been there before suddenly stood out. "The Scarlet Letter," too. And even today I'm not much for Eudora Welty, for exactly the reasons you describe above. I can't relate to her characters. In one of her novellas somebody falls in a lake and they have to give her CPR and the whole time the rest of the characters just stand around conversing about this and that like there's not a drowned girl lying next to them. I don't know, maybe in Mississippi that's normal.

  6. I forced myself to read "Twilight." I did so because it was pushed on me, just like any other cult, and my friend swore it would get better. And you know, it never did.


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